Not For the Life of Me

Not for the Life of Me
I have never been a fan of mediocre.
I am not really a fan of getting by.

Rather something with a bit more pizzazz and power. A little more impressive and hopefully leaving them a bit dazzled. Sometimes that gets me into a bit of trouble. Projects take longer and there is a lot more planning that is needed. Maybe that is the bit of theater in me. Maybe it is a bit of the perfectionist shining through.sis G

There is a quote from fantastic Mr. Fox that I am thinking about…

“and if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself”.

I like things to go perfectly. I always look for how to improve I am rarely satisfied with what I have done. In some ways that is helpful and in some ways it is hurtful, but in either way, it fits with the atonement. The atonement repairs and heals but also encourages change and improvement. It binds up mistakes but also helps make the feeble joints stronger. It is endless and powerful. It is loving and gentle. The atonement is a miracle.

I was contemplating this during the sacrament this Sunday, between stressed bursts of translating brain function, as my voice is transferred to the half a dozen or so listening earpieces scattered about in the chapel. I thought really hard about the little morsel of bread and the tiny sip of water. Because of the atonement, because of the power of God on the earth, this sacrament has the power to erase and heal me of my countless mistakes throughout the week. It was literally gone. Forgiven. I don´t know why it hit me so hard. Maybe because I had really come prepared that week with repentance and ways to improve. Maybe it is because I need the peace that I can receive through the atonement. From the translators spot in the back of the chapel you see all the people. You see all the families, and the investigators and the new converts who made it. Old and young. With families and alone. All of them coming together to take part in this ordinance that we all so desperately need.

Tubingen group

Tübingen group before transfers.

Faith is something beautiful. It is a knowledge of things that you cannot see, cannot hold in your hand or photograph or fill up a beaker with. It is intangible, but it´s effects are completely apparent. I am glad or this seemingly illogical “substance”. I am glad for the kind of person it has made me, and the lovely sorts of changes it brings to those who trust on it´s properties.

district pic

District Picture

Looking back to the obscure quote from the obscure movie that me, with my obscure humor find absolutely well, fantastic. I feel that the quote and idea it portrays was me more when I started this whole adventure. Now, I feel to say more like Ammon had after a well meaning Aaron pulls the supposedly inflated Ammon back to earth.
“Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” Alma 26: 12

That is how I am feeling. Of course I am going to keep giving my best. Keep pointing my toes and rounding my vowels…. But I can really rely on the power of God, the atonement of his son, and the Guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Many good things are happening in Tübingen. The work moves on with joy.
I will stop working, not for the life of me.

All my love,
Sister Gardnerstreet art

street art 2

Impressive Street Art

 

 

Snowball Throwing…That’s What I’ll Do

Snow snow snnnnnnooooooowwwwww!
Finally the skies have opened and rained down their sweet white freezing manna of winter time. We were quite excited. Because we all know that cold without at least a little bit of white blanket beauty is probably a bit better than still seeing the dusty broken down leaves of the fall of yesteryear.
We worked hard to end this transfer with a bang. It was really a busy happy transfer, I think the time just keeps going faster and faster. “Time flies when you’re having fun”… or was it, “Time flies when you are having lots of appointments each day and running around trying to talk with people and learn scriptures and smile and keep your hands warm and your German sharp.” Maybe that is how it is.

snowman sister

A Snowy Sister Gardner

Auch So! I did not tell you what happened with transfers. I am staying here to finish out the training with Sister Strihavka and we are welcoming into the land of Tübingen another Sister. Sister Yaursch. She is from Germany, and has been serving in the Switzerland part of the mission. I have never met her before. Sometimes Sister S and I try to imagine what she will be like. It does make sense that she is coming. Sister S could leave this transfer and then I would be without anyone. No one wants their area to close for a week. I cannot imagine a week not being able to meet with my people. So Sister Yaursch will be here and then she will be finished with her mission. So my forecast….. A lot more Tübingen.
I hope you guys still like brightly painted houses next to a river. Because you are going to get more of it.
F got confirmed this week! He seems happy. There is a change in his eyes. We met all together on Thursday, and watched the hour long restoration film. It was a different cut than I was used to. But really good. F shared his thoughts about it and it was so sincere and beautiful. Then he said this prayer and was just thanking God for his baptism and for this new start and that he was back with his team. It was so good. He is awesome, he has a girlfriend who lives near Graz, he has sent her a Book of Mormon, and says he will send the Graz sisters to teach her. He is awesome. Funny how my ‘hometown’ is coming into play again.

zone sisters

Stuttgart Zone Sisters

Elder Maw will be leaving and so will Elder Mcdaniel. I am sad because they are two really, really fantastic friends, but I am also excited to see what this new chapter brings. I am happy to welcome the new and help them learn to love this place just as I have. I think back sometimes on my old homes, remembering my fear of opening my heart up and then I just smile thanking God for giving me the opportunity to let my heart love so many people.

District members transfering

Elder Maw and Elder McDaniel are transferring to a new area.

Sister Strihavka and I have a great time with each other and she says my German is really improving. That is good to hear.
Fantastic story time: We went to go visit S and her kids, we had to start out basic like I said earlier, with God and how to pray. But today we started to teach the restoration. Who prophets are… how they help us know God´s will. I asked J, the daughter, and she knows a little bit about Noah, and I say let’s think of others. We think of Moses, and then she pipes in. “Hey, there was that one prophet, the young one who did not know which church to join, and then he prayed and God and Jesus told him that none of them where the right one.” I seriously feel the spirit come in so strongly, I can tell S can feel it too.
” Genau J, Du kannst Diese Lektion Lehren” ha ha. exactly J, you can give this lesson. and that is what she said. As a fact, as faith, as a knowledge, a testimony.
This girl has been going to Primary for a few weeks now. She is learning these truths while in her youth, I have seen her already learning so much.
I think what it did for me was remind me that I know that this church is true. I have building my testimony ever since primary. There have been times that I feel I have grown up a bit and I start to ask questions or not hold so fast to the rod, fingers still touching, but maybe only just. Then I remember on this testimony I have been working on since I was small. Then I remember that we are to be like children. To trust our father and the songs we learned in primary that are still a part of our heart.

IMG_3695

“Tree of Life” by Kazuto Uota –One of Sister Gardner”s favorite pictures.

Anyhow, at the end of the lesson we asked if she had any questions. She said she had one.
(translated for your viewing pleasure) “I would really like to be baptized, how do I do that? Who do I need to talk to about doing that?” oh my. goodness.
” and My children,I want that for them too.”

The milli second of silence before I get it all under control and smooth it as I pull out the list for the lessons. The one hic-up is her and her boyfriend need to get marriage papers figured out, but besides that, she is simply so prepared. She loves the church, She makes comments in relief society and acts as if she was already a member. On Sunday she brought her oldest son.
They are a miracle.
So pray for miracles for me, for us, for them this week.
That G and S will be able to get the papers so they can be married,
and that J will be able to stay in Germany.
Pray for these people’s hearts. I love you very much. all of you reading this. Thank you for still reading.
All my love,
Sister Gardner

Church in the snow
Fun moment this week:
Sister Strihavka lost her badge in the morning, And we did not have time to look for it. Later that night we were able to find a little time to look for it. We are looking in the snow with no luck. for a good 10-15 minutes. I take a pause and say a pray and then keep walking. She is a ways in front of me. Probably about 6 seconds later. again, translated for your viewing pleasure.

“found it”
“What? I literally just said a prayer.”
“me too”
God. Is. There.
He answers prayers. The end.

sis s in snow

Sis S in the Snow

sis's in snow

And It Came to Pass…

mary's pic

A picture a friend drew of Sister Gardner to add to the wonderful collection from High School.

And it came to pass.
That sister Gardner and Sister Strihavka did go out among the children of the Tübingenites and did seek to bring about much righteousness among the inhabitants. Yea, they did raise their voices to the people. In hope that they might bring some part of the land to an understanding of the falseness of the traditions of their fathers. For behold the people did go forth with all manner of loftiness. Rejoicing in the false traditions of the fathers.
And it came to pass that as the sisters did work with all manner of heart and mind, saying many truths unto the inhabitants, their schedule began to be very full and the cup of potentials did overflow, and yea, the sisters did rejoice.
Yea, they did rejoice greatly for the glorious work that they had been given among the children of the land.
And yea, it came to pass that they did teach in the homes of those from many cultures and histories. Yea, even many who had been taught by their brothers and sisters and
had already been pressing forward on the way to God.
Yea, and one brother did enter the waters of baptism thus beginning to follow on the ways of the Lord more fully.
And it came to pass that the sisters did run for many trains and looks at many google maps,
and thus we see how the sisters in the land of Tübingen did live out their days in the service of their Savior.

Tübingen and Sis G

Sister Gardner in Tübingen

 
I decided to write that because of what one of our investigators said this week. He just started to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning. We asked him what stood out to him, what he felt. He said what he loved is that it said. ” and it came to pass”. He talked about how Gods will always will come to pass. He loved that that is how the story went. Which was something that I had never thought about. But I loved it. His work will go forth, He is there. He has a plan and he will execute it.

District meeting

Elder Maw, Elder Erickson and Sis S

I liked this scripture to add to this thought…
Jacob 4:13 Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

The spirit testifies of truth, simple as that. I was surprised Saturday night when I found out that I should give a talk the next morning. What was my topic you may ask? The topic was conversion. I really only had about half an hour to prepare it because I was also teaching the investigator class in German the next day. So I thought of some ideas and found a few quotes and then I had to leave it up to the spirit. And it works. It does, he lets you feel what you should say. I talked about my own personal conversion to this gospel and also really what that means. It is not just a onetime experience. Yes, the knowledge of the ( I can only think of the German word right now…) …. Confirming power of the Holy Ghost will always remain but we choose everyday to stay converted to the gospel. … This was a quote I used.

You have [the] primary responsibility for your own conversion. No one can
be converted for you, and no one can force you to be converted.” (True to the Faith)
Conversion takes place as we are diligent about saying our prayers,
studying our scriptures, attending church, and being worthy to
participate in temple ordinances. Conversion comes as we act upon the
righteous principles we learn in our homes and in the classroom.
Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives and enjoy the
companionship of the Holy Ghost. Conversion comes as we understand the
Atonement of Jesus Christ, acknowledge Him as our Savior and Redeemer,
and allow the Atonement to take effect in our lives.

For example. F. He has been baptized in other churches before, but
now feels at peace. He has been working on his conversion even before
he knew. But now he is joining the massive army of new converts. Those
who seek to continue on the path they have chosen. We can choose to
build upon that conversion our whole life.

Sis S in T

Sis S in Tübingen

Good things this week
* International food night:
* R’s are back from vacation
* District meeting in Esslingen
* S and G together for family home evening
* Y’s first prayer
* Wet baptismal clothes
* German food
* A coat with a hood
*V’s awesome new African hair
*Team Felix
*Applesauce

Things I have learned
* Sometimes Satan makes things hardest for people who are giving their best
* Sometimes it is faster just to run than taking the bus.
* I can’t handle American sugar anymore.
* The Book of Mormon is true… Wait, knew that already
* Sometimes primary songs are the best
* I pray in my sleep. And then Wake up and realize what I am doing
* I can’t sleep past 6:20am

I am feeling good. Really. I love being a missionary. I highly recommend it, no matter what you think you have got going for you in this world. It is breathtakingly beautiful to do this great work. I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that He lives and loves us.
Farewell dear friends.
Sister Gardner

Sis S

Sis S Kegling from last weeks adventure.

baptism

Getting ready for the Baptism.

I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

What do I care if Icicles form, I´ve got my love to keep me warm.

Sentimental lyrical adaptability to newlyweds, dog owners, hot chocolate enthusiasts and missionaries alike, Thank you to the man who wrote this song.

I am writing you finally, I know it has been a year since you heard from me, but I am coming to you live today from once again Tübingen, seated next to Sister Strihavka, I guess not much has changed, you’d think a whole year later there would be a bit of a different circumstance.
Alright enough with the new year´s jokes now it´s “time” for me to tell you about my week.
ba-doom-tishhh
(audience groans)

Christmas Devotional

Singing at the Zone Christmas Conference

Stuttgart Zone

Stuttgart Zone

No, but really coming out of this holiday season means leaving behind celebration time and means more people have time to meet with us. Which for me makes me very happy. I have not forgotten who I am, I am still excited to hum a Beatles song when I need a little extra motivation during frühsport (exercise) and probably can turn what you said into a musical number, with choreography, But I have certainly become more of a missionary as I think about what makes me happy. I am so excited when someone comes to church, when a member invites an investigator to eat, when I have a really good conversation on the street, when I have empty pockets at the end of the day, or a lighter bag because I gave away all my pass along cards and the copy of the book of Mormon I always carry. Live is good here on Gartenstraße.

Christmas Tree 2016

Christmas Tree filled with cutout hands and notes from friends and family

Giant Christmas Pyramid

Christmas Market

At the Christmas Markets

We had a nice tausch (exchange) this week, I was able to work with my “sister” ( Sis Puckett) while the little darling ( Sis Strihavka) went to go visit “Grandma” (Sis Poll) in Ludwigsberg. It was so interesting to go from speaking German with a native to first transfer missionary learning German. It is wonderful to also see how both of them are equally powerful. Knowing the language does really help, but our success is measured by our desire, and I could feel the desire radiating from Sister Puckett. We had a good day, met a new less active who made us spring rolls, found three people who want Turkish copies of the Book of Mormon, and also managed to Teach O and R. Lots of traveling and lots of learning. It is moments like those when you realize that somehow missionary experience has snuck up on you. I did not even realize really how quickly the time was going until I was able to see myself through this tausch, really how much I have learned.

Sis Puckett

Sister Puckett in Tübingen on exchanges

We had a nice time with some members this week to celebrate the new year, and F is all ready for his baptismal date. Next Sunday. We invited to all our appointments the elders, and he came along to meet all the members. He has come to church three times now but that is still not enough time for him to get to know lots of people, so that was helpful.
Last week we went kegling. It is like bowling but with smaller balls, fewer pins, and a slightly rounded alley, meaning the ball almost always curves to the side. It was nice. Elder Maw told him I would be there at the baptism with pom poms to cheer him on. ( he likes American football) ha ha. Not only is he an investigator, he is a friend. He called us at midnight on New Years eve even though we were already asleep. Well half a asleep. They launch so many fireworks here, I woke up. It was very foggy so really out the window I could only see clouds of different colors and it went on for a very long time. I really liked it, I will have to come spend a new years here again when I can stay up and participate. Sister Strihavka and I bought little party blowers and made new years party hats to celebrate. It was good. I was happy. She is great. building
I don´t have much time left, but I wanted to tell about how J is amazing. We started our lesson about fasting, and he asked about coffee. Alert Alert! So we clarified the word of wisdom. Guess, what, he already has been living it for years and years! Wahoo! Then we covered fasting, we come to talk about fast offerings. ” why doesn´t the church have you pay tithing? ” J asks.
Ha ha, actually, look at this donation slip. Word of wisdom, law of the fast, law of tithing and other offerings. Bam. One lesson. He accepts and wants to do it all, and he was the one leading it. Almost. The lessons with him are going great. We explained that he does not have to pay anything until he is a member. Well. I guess that is just too far away. Because he paid fast offerings. He is so cool. He just needs prayers so that he will open himself up to get baptized.
I pray for you, you pray for the people I am teaching? Deal?
Sound Good? Good.
Love you,
Sister Gardner

Zone Sister at Christmas

Stuttgart Zone Sisters

Remember

REMEMBER

Remember, Christ our Savior, was born on Christmas day,
to save us all from Satan’s power, when we were gone astray,
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and Joy.
Yes my dears. Christmas has come and gone. I can´t help but feel a little sad that the time has come and past. Weeks of anticipation and even years of hoping for a Christmas in German has come and gone. leaving only behind the many, many Christmas cookies yet to be eaten.
That and a new sort of perspective.
You know what I am talking about, this perspective that we try to hold on to amid the cold of morning frost or too hot cups of chocolate. Milling through a field of sparkling wrapping paper, and hang stars from highest boughs.
Christmas is a day that happens to be on the 25th ( or 24th) of December. It is composed of a morning and a night, twenty four hours filled with seconds, hours and minutes. It is started with waking up and ended with going to sleep. Christmas is a regular day, another 24 hour cycle of the sun and moon working their dance of light and dark.
But I can hear your thinking as you are reading this, What a regular day? What is this crazy missionary talking about.
Hold on one moment and let me explain.

Christmas is a normal day made extraordinary through our intentions. Our thoughts and traditions, our celebrations, our mistletoe and Christmas trees. It is made special because of the cards we send and the nativity that are acted out. By pipe cleaner halos and stories read from Luke.
It is Christmas because of a star in the sky and lit candles on a frozen balcony in a college town in Germany accompanied by two quiet voices singing Silent Night from a little brown hymn book purchased three days before she left to change her life in the service of God.
Christmas, the twenty fifth of December is extraordinary because of angels voices to poor shepherds and the little person lying new and innocent and important in a feeding stall.
Christmas is what it is because of how we change our hearts.

Just as others have said and just as I knew. This Christmas will be one I never forget. I will remember handing out Christmas cards to anyone who would take the bit of red with a Christmas star. I will remember the sound of trumpets cutting through frozen air in a little city square. I will remember reading the Christmas story in Spanish on Christmas eve. I will remember carols sung as I played a well meaning, but lackluster electric piano. I will remember doing legos with 7 year olds and making a rather large pot of chili con carne. I will remember finding the first aid kit for minor head wounds. I will remember costumes with bed sheets, and paper Christmas trees. I will remember seeing my family on a happy Christmas screen. I will remember lots of gratitude and even more giving. I will remember singing and unwrapping. inviting and praying.
I am glad that these are my gifts to ponder in my heart.
Happy New Year this week.
I send my love…

Oh good tidings of comfort and Joy.
Love, Sister Gardner

Calee Skype call

Christmas Skype call to the Family

Christmas Pic

The Family loving the call.

What Happened this week: “The lineup”
Christmas eve.
10:00- R (lesson)
14:00- M and C
(brass concert in the city square)
(musical program with missionaries and family members)
(Christmas cookies)
18:00- J
(meeting at bahnhof)
(praying if we should invite him)

We were meeting with an investigator before we needed to go to a members house for dinner. We meet him at bahnhof just to wish him a Merry Christmas and he surprised us by bringing us a big bag of treats and fruit juices. It was so nice. We found out that we would be taking the same train in a half an hour. He was doing nothing for Christmas and would be heading home. We took the bag home and picked up the gifts we had made for the family that night and as we were going, we had this idea that we could see if he could come with us. But we did not want to intrude upon the family. We ended up saying a prayer about it and then searching in the scriptures for an answer, we both had received that prompting. So we decided to at least ask. And the family was happy to welcome him. We told him when we got back and he was so, so happy. He spent Christmas within the home of a family when he would have been alone. The father and him really got a long well and now J has a ride to church every Sunday. It was really a Christmas miracle. I am glad that we helped him have Christmas when he would have been alone. Also I felt, it was showing how members and missionaries work in unison. (happy Christmas with the A family)

Yesterday after church we were finally able to get in contact with the Armenian mission so that they can help us teach our investigator in her own language. There was a knock at the church door. We go to see who is there and then is a young tall Chinese man. We open the door and ask him what he needs. He was looking for the bishop and had a BYU application in his hand. We gave him the number of the bishop so that he could get in contact and a card for the video. We finished up with the skype plan and went out to the bus stop. He was still there, waiting for his bus. Earlier I had explained that I had been attending BYU and then as we started talking again. I thought to ask if we could meet so that I could tell him about the culture and the beliefs of the Church, because it heavily shapes the experience of students that go to BYU. He has no religion, but a friend of his mothers said that BYU is a good place to study. So he is applying for the Biology program. We have an appointment. I never would have thought that there would be a connection like that. God planned that we would be at the church when he came, and he gave me even a second chance to really help him become a potential as the man was still waiting at the bus stop. I really feel God wanted this to happen. Time shall tell the outcome.
25th
(scone and gifts)
(S Family)
(R Family)
(skype calls)
goodness
26th
crepes breakfast with S Family.
Christmas party for all the people who had no place to go.
Nativity,
Cooking